The Word of the Lord Concerning Drought

TODAY’S READING: JEREMIAH 12-14

Jeremiah 14:1 says, “The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the drought.”

We all know that a drought is caused by a lack of rain. But, we want to see Jesus in Jeremiah 14. So, we want to go deeper than the obvious meaning. Therefore, what does a drought symbolize?

Amos 8:11 says, “‘Behold, the days are coming,’ declares the Lord God, ‘when I will send a famine on the land – not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.”

Symbolically, a drought is a lack of the word of God. We are famished and thirsty when we lack the word in our lives. And, only the word can quench that hunger and thirst.

In Jeremiah 14, the people do everything they can to find water. But, there was none to be found. Even the animals could not find water.

In verse 7-9, the people acknowledge that their backslidings have been many and that they have sinned against God. So, they ask God why he is like a stranger in the land to them, why is God like one that cannot be found, why is God like a mighty warrior that can’t save the. Even though they have acknowledged their sins, they are putting the blame for the lack of water, for their thirst, on God.

But, in verse 10, God says that he has not wandered. No, it is the people that have wandered from him. They are the ones that have left him, which is the reason for their thirst.

This brings to my mind Jesus’ encounter at the well with the Samaritan woman in John 4.

As a Samaritan, the woman had wandered away from God. Yet, she was seeking something to quench her thirst. This is why she had five husbands and was living with a sixth man. Ultimately, she knew the Messiah was coming, but she had no idea when or where.

So, she went to the well to get water to quench her thirst. But, the water she was going to get could quench her physical thirst. It would do nothing for her spiritual thirst.

The woman had been wandering everywhere, living with man after man, trying to get the thirst of her soul met. She was probably wondering why God left her. Why was she so despised. Why had she been married to five men who had either died or divorced her. Why was she with a sixth. Why did she have to come get water from the well at a time when no else would be there because her shame was so great. Surely, God has wandered off from her.

But, at the well, Jesus was there waiting for her. It was as if Jesus had always been there waiting for. He had not wandered off. Rather the woman simply was not ready or willing to see Jesus and what he had to offer. But, as soon as Jesus made the offer of living water that would quench the thirst of her soul, the woman asked, “Where do you get that living water?”

Jesus told the woman, “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman asked Jesus for this water so that she would never be thirsty again.

Interestingly, it was at this point that Jesus told her to get her husband. It wa only after she asked for living water that she was ready and willing to truly acknowledge how she sought to quench her thirst apart from God. And, it was here that she told Jesus her fathers worshiped on this mountain.

But, Jesus told her about the true worship that was coming, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

So, the woman left the well and went back to the town to tell everyone that what had happened. Notice that John doesn’t say she told the people about Jesus’ living water. Rather, she said, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did.” In effect, I think she was saying, “Come, see this man who knows my hurt. And, when I truly acknowledged it, he showed me how to quench it.” She was ready and willing for true worship

I think that is the case because of what we see back in Jeremiah 14. God tells Jeremiah not to pray for the people. Why would God do that?

God says that even though the people fast and offer burnt offerings and grain offerings he will not accept them. The people acknowledged their sin, but they were still trying to reach God through religious practice. They weren’t ready to worship in spirit and truth. They wanted God on their own terms.

Therefore, God told Jeremiah not to pray for them. The people still needed the drought, the lack of the word of God, to increase their thirst to the point that they would drop their religious practices and truly seek out God to quench their thirst.

After God says he will not accept them based on their religious practices of fasting and sacrificing, he says “I will consume them by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence.”

This is interesting to me because the sword, famine, and pestilence all have some relation to the word.

God’s sword is of the Holy Spirit, the word of God (Ephesians 6:17). It is sharper than any two-edged sword and can be pierce to division of soul and spirit (Hebrews 4:12). God’s sword, the word of God, separates in us the carnal, or the natural, from the spiritual. This is just what Jesus means when he says came not to bring peace but a sword. He came to separate us from everything of the flesh so that we could worship God in spirit and truth. This is how God consumes by the sword.

Famine is a lack of food, a lack of bread. In Matthew 4, Jesus experienced his own famine, his own hunger. He had fasted 40 days and 40 nights and was tempted by the devil. Satan tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread to end his hunger. But, Jesus responded, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

The famine consumes us in that it consumes our desire to meet our own hunger. The famine eats away everything in us that would seek to provide for ourselves on our own terms. This is what Jesus revealed. In his own famine, Jesus did not attempt to provide for his own hunger, even though it would have been quite easy for him to do. Instead, Jesus declared that he truly lived by the word of God.

Jesus tells us that he doesn’t cause famine. Rather, Jesus is the bread of life. In John 6:48-51, Jesus says, “I am the bread of the life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.”

A famine is external, but a pestilence is internal. For, a pestilence, is a wasting disease, a plague.

The Hebrew word pestilence is deber. It comes from a root word meaning to turn one’s back, turn aside; to drive away, to pursue. It is very similar to the Hebrew word, dabar,  that means a word, a matter, a thing. (Remember Hebrew has no vowels so both words would be written dbr. I would think this is what allows for so many word plays in Hebrew.) Dabar can mean a spoken word or a command.

Perhaps we can see the pestilence as an internal plague that will not leave us. Perhaps it is a word from God that just gnaws at us, plagues us, until our hearts and minds are so sick that we turn the word of God, Jesus, for help.

This is what I’m thinking because we know that Jesus never put a plague on anyone. Rather, Acts 10:38 says, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.” And Matthew 4:24 says, “So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, those having seizures, and paralytics, and he healed them.” It was when people were so sick, so plagued, that they would do anything to get into Jesus’ presence (the paralytic man lowered through the roof, the woman with the issue of blood for 12 years that went through the crowd), touch him, or hear a word from him, that they were healed. In other words, God consumed them by pestilence.

I believe this is what Jesus, the word of the Lord, came to Jeremiah to say about the drought.

Deserts into Pools of Water

TODAY’S READING: PSALMS 107-111

“He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground, a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the evil of its inhabitants. He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water.” – Psalm 107: 33-35

The Old Testament view of God was that he did both good and evil. If you obeyed him, then God did good to you. But, if you disobeyed him, then God would do some sort of evil – a plague, a pestilence, a conquering enemy – to you.

In Psalm 107, the writer says that for God’s enemies – the evil inhabitants of a land, God turns rivers into a desert and a fruitful land into a salty waste. God turns a river, which is life giving, into a desert, which is a place of death since it lacks water. God turns a fruitful land, something productive and continually producing life, into a salty waste, something unproductive and incapable of producing life. However, the writer says that God does just the opposite for his people.

Does God really do both of these things?

The only way to know is to look to Jesus.

What do we see Jesus doing?

Does Jesus turn rivers into deserts or deserts into rivers?

In the gospels, John the baptist comes preaching in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord. Throughout the Bible, the wilderness and the desert are synonymous. I believe we are to understand that this to mean more than John was preaching literally in a desert. Rather, we are to understand that the people he was preaching to were a desert. The people themselves had become a dry wilderness.

Jesus came into this desert, this dry wilderness. But, Jesus did not cause the people to be in this condition.

Why were the people a desert, a dry wilderness?

The psalm gives a clue. Verse 34 says “because of the evil of its inhabitants.” However, the psalm doesn’t reveal the whole story because it still says God turned the rivers into a desert because of the evil of the people of the land.

But, Jesus reveals that God didn’t do this because of the evil of the land’s inhabitants.

First, in Matthew 5:45, Jesus said, “For he [God] makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends his rain on the just and on the unjust.” The psalmist believe that God dried up the water of the land of the wicked, the evil, the unjust. But, Jesus contradicts this. He said God does just the opposite. God treats the good and the evil the same by sending rain on their land. God is watering the land of all people.

Second, in John 10:10, Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Jesus explicitly came to give people life. To do this, Jesus would have to give water not dry it up.

Third, in John 4:13-14, Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Jesus promised to give an unending supply of living water to any who would drink from it. Indeed, not only would that person have this living water to drink, but Jesus said this person would have rivers of living water flowing out of his heart (John 7:38).

Instead of drying up rivers and turning places into deserts, Jesus turned deserts into well watered places. Metaphorically, this all speaks about what Jesus. So, we see that the psalmist was correct in Psalm 107:35.

So, if God doesn’t turn rivers into deserts as the psalmist said, then who does?

Jesus brought living water to every dry place. Yet, despite his having this living water, the life of God, inside of him, Jesus became a dry place. The river of life became a desert.

Where and when did this happen?

In John 19:28, while on the cross, Jesus said, “I thirst.”

The river of life had been dried up.

By the hand of God?

No.

Then how was the river of life dried up?

By the evil, darkness, wickedness, and violence of man.

The cross symbolizes all the wrath, rage, fury, evil, wickedness, and violence that man could conjure up. And, it was all poured out on Jesus, drying up the man that had a river of life flowing out of him to the point that he said, “I thirst.” Jesus was a river turned into a desert, a wilderness, because of our evil and violence.

Therefore, it is not God that turns rivers into deserts. We do that ourselves. We made our own hearts a wilderness because of the wicked and evil intentions of our hearts.

Through Jesus, God came to change all of that. We know this because we never once see Jesus drying up water to create a wilderness. He’s always doing just the opposite.

And, this is what God desires to do to all of our hearts – turn the desert into a pool of water and the parched land into a spring of water.

Getting Water from the Rock

TODAY’S READING : NUMBERS 19-21

During its wilderness wandering, Israel got water from a rock on two separate occasions. The first time Israel got water from a rock was at the beginning of its journey. The second time Israel got water from a rock was near the end of its journey, nearly 40 years later.

This creates a lot of questions in my mind. Why are there two accounts of Israel getting water from a rock? What are the differences between the two accounts? What are we to learn from the differences between the two accounts? How do they speak of Jesus?

THE ROCK

Perhaps the first thing we need to know to understand these two accounts is that the rock is a picture of Jesus. In 1 Corinthians 10:4, Paul says, “All drank from the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.”

Paul is directly speaking to Israel’s time in the wilderness. He says everyone in the wilderness had the same spiritual drink. They all drank from the rock. Paul says that the rock followed them. So, we know that the rock in the first account is the same as the rock in the second account. Paul explicitly says that the rock was Jesus.

THE WATER

Paul has told us that we drink from the rock that is Jesus. So, what is the water from the rock that we drink?

The answer is in 1 Corinthians 12:13, which says, “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”  The water we drink from Jesus, the rock, is the Holy Spirit.

In John 4, Jesus meets a woman at a well. He tells the woman that if she had asked him for a drink then he would have given her living water. Jesus says to her, “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Drinking from the water, the Holy Spirit, that Jesus gives is how we receive eternal life.

In John 7, Jesus is at the feast of tabernacles, which is a ultimately a picture of his second coming. John 7:37-39 says, “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”‘ Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

Like Paul, John specifically says that the water we drink from Jesus, the rock, is the Holy Spirit.

Further, I believe John’s account of Jesus at the feast of tabernacles is critical to understanding the two accounts of getting water from the rock. Notice John quotes Jesus as saying that the scripture has said out of our hearts will flow rivers of living water. It could be that Jesus is referencing three proverbs.

“The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.” – Proverbs 10:11

“The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.” – Proverbs 18:5

“The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.” – Proverbs 20:5

Keep these verses in mind when we look at the second time Israel gets water from the rock.

GETTING WATER BY STRIKING THE ROCK

The first account of Israel getting water from the rock is found in Exodus 17:1-7. I believe this is a picture of Jesus’ first coming where we got water from his crucifixion, his being struck.

This account takes place sometime after the 15th day of the second month since Israel left Egypt. I haven’t worked out the dates, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this takes place very near the time of Pentecost, which was when the Holy Spirit was first poured out on those that believed in Jesus.

In Exodus 17, Israel has just left the wilderness of Sin, which was a place of pressing. Israel was now camped at Rephidim. The root word for Rephidim means to support or refresh. This pictures that the water that Israel will get from the rock in this account supports and refreshes them. But, the root word for Rephidim also means to spread out or to extend. When the Holy Spirit was first poured out in Acts 2, He was poured out on the 120 disciples who spoke to Jews from all over the world about the mighty works of God. These Jews from all over the world returned home spreading out the message of what God had done in and through Jesus.

Now, Israel found no water to drink in Rephidim. So, they quarreled with Moses. The people said “Give us water to drink.” Moses responds by asking why they are quarreling with him and testing God. So, the people thirsted and grumbled against Moses. They ask Moses why he brought them out of Egypt to kill them, their children, and their livestock with thirst.

This brings to my mind the crucifixion of Jesus. The Jews had been brought out of the city to Golgotha to see Jesus crucified. They are thirsty for their own kingdom, which they have not had since they were exiled into Babylon. They thought Jesus would be the king to restore the kingdom. But, now they have been brought out to watch their king die. They start quarreling with Jesus on the cross to come down and prove that he is God. In a sense, they were saying to Jesus, “Did you just bring us out here so we cold die of our thirst for the kingdom?”

Moses cries out to God, asking what he should. God tells Moses, “Take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile.” The first time we see this staff is when Moses meets Jesus in the burning bush in Exodus 3 and 4. In Exodus 4, God tells Moses to take his staff and throw it on the ground. The staff turns into a serpent. The second time we see this staff is in Exodus 7. God tells Moses to meet Pharaoh at the Nile with the staff that he turned into a serpent. God tells Moses to strike the Nile with the staff and turn the water into blood. So, this staff became a serpent and turned water, or life, into blood, or death.

Back in Exodus 17, God tells Moses that he will stand on the rock at Horeb. Horeb means to dry up, to be dried or to lay in ruins or lay waste. Speaking of Jesus on the cross, John 19:28 says, “After this, Jesus, knowing that all was no finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst.'” Jesus was the dry rock on the cross. The Father was there with him until Jesus yielded up his spirit and truly became the dry place.

Then Gold told Moses to take the staff that became a serpent and turned the water of the Nile into blood, the staff of death and strike the rock so that water will come out of it for the people to drink. Moses did exactly this in the sight of the elders of Israel. John 19:34 says, “But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.” Jesus, the rock, was struck and water came out for the people to drink. Matthew 27:41 says that the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders mocked Jesus when he was on the cross. Just as Moses struck the rock in front of the elders of Israel, Jesus was struck in front of the elders of his day to give the people water to drink.

Moses called the name of that place Massah, which means testing, and Meribah, which means quarreling. It was at the cross that Israel quarreled with Jesus. It was at the cross that Israel tested Jesus’ love for them. They dared him to prove to them that he was God by coming down from the cross. But, his love for them was too strong.

Notice that in the gospel of John the first time Jesus mentions drinking of the spiritual water, the living water, that he gives is found in John 4. This is the chapter where Jesus meets the Samaritan, a Gentile, woman at the well. this story is about Jesus meeting his Gentile bride, the church.

Not coincidentally, Jesus’ first giving of spiritual water in John 4 occurs near the time of the Passover. Just after his encounter with the Samaritan woman, Jesus is speaking with the disciples about the spiritual harvest. But, he compares the spiritual harvest to the natural harvest. In John 4:35, Jesus says, “There are yet four months, then the harvest comes. Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.” Jesus is telling the disciples that it is four months until the physical harvest, but the spiritual harvest is right now. Four months until the physical harvest puts Jesus’ first giving of spiritual water right about the time of the Passover.

Therefore, the first instance of Israel getting water from the rock by striking it is a picture of Jesus, the rock, giving us the Holy Spirit, the water, to drink when his side was pierced on the cross.

GETTING WATER BY SPEAKING FOR THE ROCK

The second account of getting water from a rock is found in Numbers 20:1-13. I believe this is a picture of Jesus’ second coming where we get water from the rock and “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”

We are told that Israel came into the wilderness of Zin in the first month and the people stayed in Kadesh. The first month is the time of the Passover, the month of Jesus’ crucifixion. However, Israel did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah at his first coming.

I am not definitive on the following. But, for Israel, Jesus’ second coming will be his first coming to them. Could this be why this getting water from the rock is associated with the first month? I think this ties in with the living water Jesus speaks of in John 7.

As I mentioned above, John 7 is connected with the feast of tabernacles. This is the time of Jesus’ second coming. Therefore, I think this second getting water from the rock is tied to Jesus’ second coming. I think the details of the second account in Numbers 20 will help show this.

Zin likely means thorn or barb in Hebrew. Numbers 33:55 says, “But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those of them whom you let remain shall be barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land where you dwell.” Even though Jesus has come, we still have barbs, or planks, in our eyes and thorns in our sides. But, at his second coming, all thorns, all sin, will be taken away.

Interestingly, Job 5:5 says, “The hungry eat his harvest, and he takes it even out of thorns, and the thirsty pant after his wealth.” The hungry are getting their food in the wilderness of thorns. But, the thirsty pant for the true wealth, the true riches, of Jesus, which is the full outpouring of the knowledge of the God as we and the earth are completely filled with the Holy Spirit.

When Jesus comes a second time, these barbs and thorns will be taken away and we will drink fully of the Spirit. Indeed, we will dwell in Kadesh, which means to be holy, to be set apart from common use – just like Israel dwelt in Kadesh in the second account of getting water from the rock.

Unlike the first getting of water from the rock, in this second account the people assembled themselves together. Zechariah 12 and 14 prophesies about a future time when all the nations gather against Israel. Psalm 2 talks about the nations raging and plotting a vain thing against the Lord and his Anointed. I think this might be the picture we are seeing here as the whole congregation gather against Moses.

So, the people quarrel with Moses, wishing that they had died with their brothers before the Lord. The congregation was speaking of the men of war more than 20 years old that died in the wilderness, failing to reach the promised land. The congregation asks Moses, “Why have you brought the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness, that we should die here?” This congregation wasn’t like the first. They called themselves the people of the Lord.

They even accused God of bringing them to this evil place. But, not only does God not lead us into evil, he doesn’t even lead us into temptation. In Matthew 6:13, Jesus tells us to pray, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” And, James 1:13 says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.”

The congregation accused God of bringing them to a place without figs, vines, or pomegranates. However, God had them send spies into the promised land. From their trip into the promised land, the spies brought back exactly these three types of fruit. God had showed them the land he was giving them that had these fruits, but the congregation had rejected it.

So, Moses and Aaron went into the tent meeting to hear from God. God told Moses, “Take the staff.” This was not the same staff Moses used in Exodus 17 when he struck the rock to get water the first time. No, this was Aaron’s staff from Numbers 17:1-11.

In Numbers 16, the people grumbled against Moses and Aaron. So, God had Moses get a staff from each tribe, write their names on them, and put them in the tent of meeting before the testimony. The man whose staff sprouted is the one whom God would choose to lead. The next day, when Moses went into the tent of testimony, Aaron’s staff had budded. Aaron’s staff had put forth buds, produced blossoms, and bore ripe almonds. That sounds like us in John 15 when we, the branches, are connected to  Jesus, the vine. We produce fruit, more fruit, and much fruit. So, God told Moses to put Aaron’s staff back before the testimony as sign for the rebels.

The staff Moses used in the first getting of water from the rock was a staff that became a serpent and turned the Nile to blood. It was a staff of death. But, Aaron’s dry staff had produced. Aaron’s staff had gone from death to life. This was the staff Moses was to use the second time to get water from the rock.

Moses was to tell the rock to yield its water before the eyes of the congregation. God said this was how Moses was to get water out of the rock and give the congregation a drink. Instead of striking the rock, Moses was told to tell the rock to yield water. In verse 8, the Hebrew word for tell also means speak. And, there is a preposition missing in English that is present in the Hebrew. This preposition can mean for. So, the instruction given by God to Moses could be read that he was to speak for the rock. In a way, this makes more sense because we don’t tell Christ, the rock, what to do. But, we do speak for him, or on his behalf. We testify and prophesy about him. This is what all of the apostles and disciples did.

But, Moses disobeys God. First, he calls the people rebels. This was his how he felt, but it is not what God told him to say. We must remember that Moses is a picture of the law, and it is the law that condemns.

Moses disobeys a second time when he says “Shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” Moses was not to bring water out of the rock. He was to speak for the rock, and the rock would yield its water to the people to drank. The giving of the water was the rock’s responsibility. And, it’s Jesus’ responsibility to give the Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 3:6-7, Paul says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” Moses was nothing. The rock was the giver of the water. In effect, Moses, the law, was taking God’s glory. This is what the flesh always wants to do.

Then Moses disobeys a third time by striking the rock twice. I don’t think this means that Moses struck the rock two times right here. Rather, it means he struck the rock once back in Exodus 17 and a second time in Numbers 20. However, Romans 6:10 says, “For the death he [Jesus] died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.” Also, Hebrews 7:27 says, “He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.”

The author of Hebrews speaks directly to Moses striking the rock, or crucifying Christ, a second time. Hebrews 6:4-6 says, “For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.” And, Hebrews 9:28 says, “So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”

Moses disobeyed repeatedly in Numbers 20. He didn’t believe the testimony of God. Therefore, Moses could not enter the promised land. God said, “Because you did not believe me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people Israel therefore you shall not bring them in.”

What is the testimony of God? In 1 John 5:11-12, John says, “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the son of God does not have life.” See, Moses took the staff that was life and treated it like the staff that was death. God is life, but Moses didn’t believe the testimony about him and treated God as if he has death in him.

Even though Moses disobeyed, water came out of the rock abundantly. Moses is a picture of the law. The law through the flesh disobeys God at every turn. Moses tried to take matters into his own hands. So do we when we are under the law and walking in the flesh. Moses may have been more meek than any person on the face of the earth, but here we see his violence come out. All people apart from Christ are violent no matter how meek they appear.

THE FIRST AND SECOND GETTING OF WATER FROM THE ROCK

The first getting of water from the rock was God’s down payment of his Spirit to us. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:22 that God “has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” And, Ephesians 1:13-14 says, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire the possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”

But, in the end, at his second coming, Jesus will get the victory. His life, his Spirit, will come forth abundantly. Jesus says in John 10:10, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Perhaps the best statement about the water we will get from the rock the second time, Jesus at his second coming, is Paul’s in Ephesians 1:16-21.

“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.”

 

Jesus: The Rock that Was Struck

Israel has come to Rephidim. But, there is no water for them to drink there. So, Israel quarrels with Moses and says, “Give us water to drink.” Moses asks why they are quarreling with him and what are they testing God. Israel was thirsty and asked Moses why they brought them there to kill them with thirst. Moses asks God what he should do since the people are about to stone him. In Exodus 17:5, God told Moses, “Take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.”

I think many Christians would identify this rock as Jesus. But, what exactly is going on here? What is the full picture of Jesus that God is giving us?

Since Israel was baptized in the Red Sea, they have been to some interesting places. First, they traveled through the wilderness of Shur. Shur means wall. They traveled three days, the period of time from death to life, but they found no water. This wilderness was a wall between death and life for them.

Israel eventually came to Marah, which means bitter or bitterness. Even they found water at Marah, they couldn’t drink it because it was bitter. The people complained against Moses, and Moses asked God what should they drink. The Lord showed Moses a tree, think the cross, the tree that Jesus became a curse on. Moses threw the tree in the water and the bitter water became sweet. Because of the tree, their bitter life became sweet.

From Marah, they came to Elim. Elim means trees, perhaps palm trees. At Elim, there were 12 springs of water and 70 palm trees. The number 12 has several connotations throughout scripture, including God’s power and authority as well as the governmental foundation. I have written several times about the number 70 as it relates to all the nations of the earth that came from Noah’s sons and the people of God represented by Jacob’s sons. So, here we see all the people of God provided with God’s life (water) as their governmental foundation, power, or authority.

Israel left Elim and traveled through the wilderness of Sin. The name Sin is not the Hebrew word for sin. This name Sin means teeth, press, or sharp. The name has the idea of two front teeth. Again, Israel complained to Moses and Aaron. They said it would have been better that they had died in Egypt where they had meat pots and bread to the full. Instead, they had been brought here to die of hunger. God provided them quail for one evening, but the next morning they had manna from heaven, which God fed them with for the next 40 years as they wandered in the wilderness. It’s ironic that in the wilderness known as teeth that God provided Israel manna, which you wouldn’t need teeth to eat. God provided for their hunger. In John 6:35, Jesus says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger.”

Israel left the wilderness of Sin and came to Rephidim. Rephidim means to spread out or extend and to support or refresh. Israel camped at this place, the place of support or refreshment, but there was no water for the people to drink. They people said they were brought out here to die of thirst. So, in the previous place, the people complained that they would die of hunger, but God gave them manna. Manna was a type or picture of Jesus, the true bread from heaven, the bread of life. But, now the people are complaining that they will die of thirst.

But, this time Israel moves beyond complaining. Moses says they put God to the test. Deuteronomy 6:16 says, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” This is the scripture Jesus quoted when Satan attacked him in the wilderness. In 1 Corinthians 10:9, Paul says, “We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by the serpents.” Clearly, we are not to put God to the test, to force him to prove himself to us. But, Israel did exactly this, even though had generously, miraculously, provided for them after each of their previous complaints.

Even though Israel put God to the test, God told Moses to give the people water by striking a rock with his staff. But, this is where things get interesting.

First, God tells Moses to use the staff that the struck the Nile with. The first time we see Moses with this staff is Exodus 4. Moses asks what he should do if the people don’t believe the Lord appeared to him. God tells Moses to take his staff and throw it on the ground. When Moses did this, the staff became a serpent. When Moses caught the serpent by the tail, it became a staff again. A few chapters later, Moses does the same thing in front of Pharaoh

But, the next thing Moses does with the staff is found in Exodus 7. In verse 15, God tells Moses to “take in your hand the staff that turned into a serpent.” Then, in verse 17, God tells Moses to tell Pharaoh, “By this you shall know that I am the Lord: behold, with the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water that is in the Nile, and it shall turn to blood.” So, this staff became a serpent and was used to strike the river that brought life to Egypt and turn it into blood.

Next, God tells Moses that he will stand before him on the rock at Horeb. And, Moses was to strike the rock with the staff. Moses was to use the staff that became a serpent to strike the rock. This is a picture of Jesus on the cross.

Notice that God was standing on the rock, but Moses was to strike the rock. What part of God would have been on the rock? God’s heel. What did Moses strike God’s heel with? The staff that became a serpent. As part of the curse in Genesis 3:15, God said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” When Moses struck the rock that God was standing on with the staff, it was a picture of the serpent, Satan, bruising the heel of Jesus on the cross.

The rock God was standing on was called Horeb. Horeb means to dry up, be dried, to be in ruins, to lay waste. When Jesus was struck by Satan on the cross, what did he say? John 19:28 says, “After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst.” Jesus is the rock at Horeb, that was dried up when he was struck on the cross.

When the rock was struck, water came out. On the cross, Jesus was pierced in his side. In other words, he was struck by a staff. And, that staff was the serpent, Satan. What happened when Jesus’ side was pierced? John 19:34 says, “But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.” The first time Moses struck the Nile and out came blood. Now, Moses struck the rock and out came water. Moses, through whom the law was given, wielded the staff that became a serpent and when it was used to strike it brought forth blood and water. And, when Jesus was pierced by a spear on the cross at the hand of Satan out came blood and water.

But, recall John 6:35 above. I didn’t quote the whole verse. The complete verse says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

The Israelites said they were brought out of Egypt to die of hunger. And, God provided them manna from heaven. Jesus is the true bread from heaven, the bread of life, which if someone eats from that bread they will never hunger again.

The Israelites said they were brought out of Egypt to die of thirst. And, God provided them water from a dry rock. Jesus is the living water. In John 4:14, Jesus says, “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Yes, most of us know that Jesus is the rock. But, this brief event in Exodus 17 reveals so much more than we initially think. This brief story of Moses striking the rock foreshadows so much of what happened to Jesus on the cross and the benefit that we received.

If we drink from that rock, then we will never thirst again.

Jesus Meets a Woman at a Well

Today’s Reading: Genesis 21-23

I would guess that most people would see the title of this post and think my reading this morning was John 4. That’s the story where Jesus meets a Samaritan women at a well – a pretty famous story in the Bible. But, that story is the not reason for the title of this post.

The title for this post comes from a story in Genesis 21 where the “angel of God” spoke to a woman at a well. You might be saying to yourself, “Yeah, but the title of your post is ‘Jesus Meets a Woman at a Well’ and Genesis 21 is about the angel of God, not Jesus.”

That is because I believe the angel of God and Jesus are one and the same person. Jesus is the angel of God made flesh, after the angel of God became a man. To see why I believe that we need to look at Genesis 16 and 21 in the context of John 4 because the actual story of Jesus meeting a woman at a well helps us to read the chapters in Genesis in the language of Son.

GENESIS 16

So, first, we need to go back to Genesis 16. This chapter is the first time in the Bible that God meets a woman at a well. The first time something happens in the Bible is significant. And, God, or a man, meeting a woman at a well is a recurring theme throughout scripture. That makes the Genesis 16 story, and consequently, the Genesis 21 even more important. Further, all these stories about women being met at wells are different pictures of the story in John 4.

In Genesis 16, Sarai was barren. So, as was the custom at the time, she gave Hagar, her servant, to Abram to produce a child for her. When Hagar became pregnant, Sarai looked at her with contempt. Sarai dealt harshly with Hagar, which caused Hagar to flee from her.

Genesis 16:7 says, “The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur.” This is the first mention of the angel of the Lord in the Bible. An angel is a messenger. But, this is “the” messenger of the Lord. If you study all of the references to the angel of the Lord, then you will find that he is not like any other angel. In many cases, the angel of the Lord is referred to directly as “the Lord,” as if he is God, yet he submits to God. Typically, the angel of the Lord is doing something that Jesus would do. When I take everything into account, I believe the angel of the Lord is the pre-incarnate Word of God, which when he takes on flesh is Jesus.

Therefore, in Genesis 16:7, we have a picture of Jesus meeting a woman, Hagar, at a well. In this particular case, Hagar fled from Sarai. So, the angel of the Lord told Hagar to go back to Sarai and submit to her. (Didn’t Paul say that if you are a slave to remain a slave – in other words don’t flee – but if you have a legitimate opportunity to be free to take it?) The angel of the Lord promises to bless Hagar. So, Hagar called the “name of the Lord” (the distinction between the angel and the Lord is blurred) the God of seeing, or the God who sees me. Hagar then names the well Beer-lahai-roi. After doing some research and thinking about Jesus, I would say she named the well “the underground well of water of the one who sees me and makes me live.”

GENESIS 21

With that as background, let’s pick up the story in Genesis 21. At the beginning of the chapter, Sarah conceives and bears Abraham a son named Isaac, which comes from a root word meaning to laugh, to joke. Genesis 21:6 says, “And God said, ‘God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.'”

I think what Sarah is really saying is “God has made a joke about me; everyone who hears will laugh about me.” I think this for two reasons. First, the words “for” and “over” are the same Hebrew word in Genesis 21:6. The Hebrew word means for, until, into, to or towards, away or from, and of or about.

Second, what Sarah says God has done to her needs to be in context of what Sarah does next. Several years later, after Isaac was weaned, “Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing. So she said to Abraham, ‘Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son.'” (Genesis 21:9-10). I think Sarah believed was God making her a joke to others, that everyone who heard her story would laugh about her. Therefore, when see saw Hagar’s son, Ishmael laughing, she projected her belief of what God had done to her onto Ishmael. The scripture does not tell us what Ishmael was laughing about. It only tells us what Sarah believed. Do we know another’s heart? Sarah projected this onto Ishmael because he was a rival for Abraham’s inheritance, which Sarah wanted to go to her son Isaac. Sarah flat out says this Genesis 21:10. Therefore, Sarah cast out Hagar and Ishmael.

This time, instead of fleeing, Hagar is cast out, or made an outcast. God tells Abraham to let this happen because he is going to make Ishmael a great nation. So, Abraham gives Hagar bread and water and sends her and Ishmael away.

Hagar and Ishmael wander in the wilderness. When the water runs out, Hagar leaves Ishmael under a bush. Then, she goes “a good way off” because she doesn’t want to see her son die. Hagar begins to cry out and weep. Genesis 21:17 says, “And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, ‘What troubles you Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is.'”

So, Hagar has been cast out. She is all alone, wandering in the wilderness. She has no protection and no provision. But God hears her son and the angel of God calls to her from heaven. Now, I can’t remember any other time were a mere angel spoke to someone from heaven. Typically, angels appear to men or women in some sort of bodily form as a man in the Bible. But, Hagar hears the angel of God calling to her directly from heaven. Could that be because she already met the angel of the Lord once before in Genesis 16?

Also, notice who God comes to in this story. God doesn’t come to Sarah, the wife of Abraham, the one who dealt harshly with her maidservant in Genesis 16 and the one who cast her maidservant out in Genesis 21. No, the angel of the Lord, which is to say Jesus, comes to Hagar. The angel of the Lord comes to an Egyptian woman, a Gentile. The angel of the Lord comes to the one who is mistreated. The angel of the Lord comes to the one who is an outcast. The angel of the Lord comes to the one who is a victim.

“Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.” (Genesis 21:19) The Bible doesn’t say that Hagar went anywhere. Rather God, or was it the angel of God (again the blurring of the two), opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. God made her able to see the well of water that was with her. She then “filled the skin with water” and to the water her son. Remember, Hagar had gone “a good way off” from Ishmael.

So, summarizing Genesis 16 and 21, Hagar had fled from Sarai because of her mistreatment. Hagar meets the angel of the Lord, Jesus, at a well. She realizes this the God who sees her. She names the well “the underground well of water of the one who sees me and makes me live.” Hagar goes back to Sarah to continue serving her. Sarah thinks God is making a joke of her, sees Ishmael laughing, and thinks Ishmael is mocking her. Sarah sees Ishmael as rival to her son’s inheritance and demands that Hagar and Ishmael be cast out. The angel of God, Jesus, speaks to Hagar who has been cast out. He sees where she is and opens her eyes to a well of water that she takes back to her son so he can drink and live.

JOHN 4

To paraphrase Hebrews 2:9, but we see Jesus! Let’s look at the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, keeping in mind everything we know from Hagar’s story.

Jesus left Judea and departed from Galilee and comes to Samaria. He is tried from journey. So he sits beside a well around noon, a very hot part of the day.

John 4:7 says, “A woman from Samaria came to draw water.” This woman was a Samaritan, not a Jew. Therefore she was Gentile and viewed as an outcast by Jews. Also, she came to the well at noon. This was not the time to get water as it was very hot and getting water from a well and carrying your water back to your place was hard work. The woman probably came out noon to avoid the other women at the well. This is a safe assumption because we later find out she has had five husbands and is living with a sixth man who is not her husband. This woman is likely the talk of the town and feeling like an outcast. So, not only is she an outcast according to the Jews but an outcast according to her own town. But, she needs water. This Samaritan woman is just like Hagar.

Jesus asks the woman for a drink. The woman recognizes Jesus is a Jew and is stunned “for Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.” The woman knew she was the Jews saw her as an outcast and figured this man, who was a Jew, that her asked for a drink saw her as an outcast too. She figured that Jesus would victimize her just like everyone had done.

But, “Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink,” you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.'” The woman wonders how Jesus is going to get this water since he doesn’t have anything to draw with and the well is deep. Remember that Hagar called the well she met the angel of the Lord at an underground well. That’s similar to what the Samaritan woman says about this well. Also, the woman wonders if this is really living water because she asks Jesus if he is greater than her father Jacob.

In John 4:13, Jesus says to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman responds by saying that she wants this water because she will never have to come to draw water from this well again. She’s beginning to see that if she drinks from the water that Jesus is offering she won’t feel that she is an outcast anymore. Just like Hagar, her eyes are being opened to the see the truth of water Jesus has provided for her.

Jesus then asks her about her husband to which the woman replies she doesn’t have one. Jesus tells her the truth about all her husbands. This woman knows that this man is prophet, one who sees. She is like Hagar in that she realizes the man at the well is the one who sees her. The woman says she knows the Messiah is coming. And Jesus says that he is the Messiah. Like Hagar, the woman now knows that it is God, Jesus, the Messiah, the angel of the Lord, who is the one who provides her water and sees her.

The disciples arrive and see Jesus talking to this Samaritan woman. They marveled that Jesus was talking to a Samaritan woman, an outcast.  So, the woman takes her and goes back to town. This is like Hagar, who had to take the water the angel of God showed her back to her son who was “a good way off.”

The woman went back to the town and told them all about Jesus, the Christ, a man who saw her and all she had done. A man who, instead of treating her like an outcast, offered her living water that would become a spring of water welling up in her to eternal life. The people from the town go to Jesus and many believed in him. Just like Hagar took the water that the angel of God gave her to her son and caused him to live, so did the Samaritan woman take the water she received to her town and caused them to live.

So, what do we learn from all this?

Jesus sees those who are outcasts. He sees those who have been made victims. Instead of mistreating and victimizing them too, Jesus gives them a drink from his well of living water. Jesus sees their needs and meets those needs.

This story in John has other layers to it that become more clear when compare with it the other stories of women being met at wells.